There are people like people like C.J. [Mahaney] and other people like that who have shed that theology and simply hold on to what is called a non-cessationist view, that is the view that may be the miracles and signs and the tongues still exist. They haven't ceased. That's what's called a non-cessationist. We would be cessationists, if we would say we can show biblically how that's all ceased. So what's left to them is they've embraced good theology and I think they're moving in the right direction. But many of them, you know, people like John Piper and Wayne Grudem who are, generally speaking, theologically sound will hold on to that non-cessationist's view and say, "Well, God could do that and there could be miracles and there could be tongues."Dr. MacArthur has not done justice to these men and their views. John Piper and Wayne Grudem are not simply "non-cessationists" who think that God "could do that." This is false. Here is something of Piper's view from a sermon he preached:
Now, obviously, this is more than simply saying that all the gifts "could" be operative today. Pastor Piper is arguing that all are available! Dr. MacArthur's comments are even more off-base in discussing Wayne Grudem's views. Reading chapters 52 and 53 of Dr. Grudem's Systematic Theology shows that he is very much arguing for the full range of spiritual gifts today--including gifts of healings, prophecy, tongues and interpretations of tongues. For those wanting a short study by Grudem on these issues and to see for themselves exactly what his views are, one should consult his essay Should Christians Expect Miracles Today? Objections and Answers from the Bible. Now there is a category of person who corresponds to Dr. MacArthur's "non-cessationist" portrayal. In a four-views book edited by Wayne Grudem entitled Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views (Zondervan, 1996) one of the views is called "Open But Cautious" and is defended by Robert L. Saucy. Saucy's position is nicely summed up by his words:
To state my opinion up front, the New Testament does not explicitly teach the cessation of certain gifts at a particular point in the experience of the church. It is, therefore, impossible to say, on the basis of biblical teaching that certain gifts cannot occur at any given time according to God's sovereign purpose. On the other hand, there are several lines of evidence that demonstrate that the miraculous phenomena experienced in the early biblical church are not standard for the life of the church throughout all time. (p. 100)Here is a statement that is reflective of MacArthur's "non-cessationist" position. This, however, is not Piper's or Grudem's view. To assert otherwise is irresponsible scholarship.
Pastor John MacArthur should do two things. First, he should accurately and honestly speak of his fellow ministers' views. He may disagree with both Piper and Grudem but he should be able to correctly label their views. Second, it would be helpful if MacArthur would responsibly interact with the actual arguments put forward by Piper and Grudem. In his book Charismatic Chaos MacArthur interacts with Grudem's views on prophecy in only one footnote on pages 368-369 and even this does not adequately articulate Grudem's views.
Can we expect better from the upcoming Strange Fire conference?